Kōrero with your kuia, convince your cuz... Get the facts, so you can have a convincing conversation.

By now you will have heard that we’ll be voting on whether to legalise cannabis at the general election this September.

Some people won’t know which way to vote yet, and others won’t have even thought about it.  That’s where you come in. We want every New Zealander to go into that polling booth knowing the facts. To make sure this happens it's time to get chatting to your cousins and debating with your dad.

Throughout the lead-up to the referendum, we’ll be sharing resources to help support you to have convincing kōrero with everyone you know (without losing any friends along the way!). Please let us know how you get on, and what else might help you get the most out of your chats.

Getting started

Know your subject. Unless you’re already an expert, you might want to check out our Vote Cannabis page and FAQs.

Pick your moment. Often the best time for a conversation is while doing an activity - whether it’s the climbing wall or the bingo hall (actually, those might not work so well). Make sure everybody’s in a chilled mood before you start.

Start by listening 😊  It’s much easier to be convincing if you know where someone is coming from. They’ll no doubt have good reasons for whatever they already think about cannabis. 

Focus on values

Work out which values are important to you both. For example, most people are keen to see New Zealanders healthier, and to protect young people from damaging themselves. And most people see themselves as compassionate, and are keen to do what works.

Build on those values to explain your point of view: “Minimising the harm that cannabis can cause is important to me too. And from what I’ve learned, regulating cannabis is the best way to stop some of the worst harms that cannabis can cause…”

Remember that things are rarely black and white. You might share similar values – for example that we need to protect young people - but disagree on the solution. But you can talk through law reform options that address their concerns. 

Keep it light

Keep calm and polite - always. If you end up red-faced and raving at the family BBQ, chances are that you won’t be having the convincing effect you were going for! So if you’re starting to grind your teeth, put on your smile and back off for now. Plenty of time to try again later…

Explore ideas together rather than telling people what they should think. Remember – it’s okay to not agree on everything. You’re mostly trying to get across that health-focused cannabis regulations can help reduce harm and protect people.

Choose arguments that are convincing

Every conversation will be a bit different. But based on our experience, some messages are more convincing than others.


Not so convincing

Talking about wanting laws based
on compassion

Talking about individual freedoms

Focusing on promoting health


Saying cannabis isn’t harmful (because it does cause harm to some people)

Wanting to reduce drug harm


Saying cannabis is good for you (medicinal cannabis is a different conversation)

Reducing the number of convictions


The most important message is that regulating a potentially harmful drug is the best way to keep people safe. Keeping cannabis in the black market means we have no control over potency, packaging or purchase age. New Zealand tightly regulates other stuff that can be dangerous – like sky-diving and hazardous chemicals. Cannabis shouldn’t be any different.

Finally, people are more likely to care about the referendum if they know why it’s important. If you can, refer to personal stories or facts about the people who have been harmed by our current drug laws.